Factor 2 – Understanding explains how people discover meaning in data, and helps develop our ability to interpret and use architectural information. For example, dictionaries and thesauri help explain what words mean.

Questions that architects ask here include:

  • What understanding do you have of this information?
  • Is there a single, corporate definition of address, or are there alternative definitions in use?
  • Do you have definitions of the component parts of the address (such as house number, street name, city, and postcode)?
  • What theories or background knowledge help you to make the most effective use of information?
  • How have you interpreted and used this type of information in the past?

A dictionary provides a general definition of the word address. More specialised descriptions include a data model of the address database, or the detailed specification of a standard postcode.

We make assumptions and have certain expectations based on general knowledge and experience. The example is an English address, so we can expect the order of the components to be house number, street name, suburb, town, county, postcode, and finally country. We might assume that the example is a home address rather than a business address.

The purpose of the information explains how it will be used – an address is used to locate a house or building, or to deliver a letter or parcel.

The more background information that is available, the more options there are for interpreting and using the information. For example, the “SO” part of the postcode probably refers to the Southampton area, but how broad is that area and would it be useful for market segmentation? Architectural information provides background knowledge that makes it easier to analyse or use information.

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